4 decisions that backfired on SF 49ers in 2020

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan, SF 49ers
General Manager John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers endured an arduous, injury-filled season in 2020, but things could have been much better if these four decisions were different.

There are plenty of reasons why the 2020 SF 49ers fell way short of expectations.

Chief among the causes behind the Niners’ 6-10 finish was the injury factor, all but derailing their chances to engineer a dominant follow-up campaign to their Super Bowl appearance the season before.

While that’s a good excuse and one which will define San Francisco’s efforts last season, it can’t explain everything. The Seattle Seahawks, who dealt with nearly as many injuries as the SF 49ers, went on to win the NFC West and made it into the playoffs. Sure, the contexts and rosters are entirely different. But it’s merely a point to make: injuries can’t always be the end-all blame point.

Along the way, even before the 2020 season began, the Niners made a number of questionable decisions. From that point and through the regular season, there were other options that ultimately backfired, proving to be the wrong decisions to make.

No, trading defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts wasn’t one of them. A tough choice, yes. But in light of the team’s upcoming salary-cap situation, a necessary one.

Instead, here are four other choices that hurt San Francisco in 2020 and could carry weight in the future.

No. 4: SF 49ers not selecting a cornerback in the 2020 NFL Draft

The SF 49ers still managed to boast a top-five defense in the league, at least in terms of yards allowed, and received excellent cornerback play from defenders like Jason Verrett and K’Waun Williams.

But injuries and less-than-stellar efforts from other members of the secondary created their own problems, most notably reserve cornerback Brian Allen’s meltdown against the Miami Dolphins in Week 5.

That was only a case study, though. What matters here are the long-term implications.

While the Niners only took home five players in the 2020 NFL Draft, not one of them was a cornerback in what was an awfully deep draft class at that position. It was a need, too, considering Verrett, Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon and Richard Sherman are all poised to hit free agency this offseason.

With a massive degree of uncertainty heading into 2021, and the reality many corners tend to struggle with transitioning from the college ranks to the pros, San Francisco would have been wise to take advantage of that deep class in 2020 and add to its future cornerbacking ranks with some up-and-coming talent.

Not doing so was a problem last season and could be again in 2021.